During our last camp out I was forced into a situation that I am sure most if not all Scoutmasters hope that they never have to deal with. I was sitting with the Assistant Scoutmaster when from over in the Scout area of camp I heard a word that got my attention. I jumped from my chair and offered an ultimatum to the Scouts. Use that language and find yourself on the “uninvited” list.
A Scout is clean in thought, word, and deed. Living that part of the Scout Law that is Clean does not stop at brushing your teeth.
That sad part is that it’s not just the older Scouts that seem to have trouble with their language. I have heard on occasion some of the younger Scouts using foul language. Now, we do not encourage the use of foul language in our Troop and never model that language ourselves. I will not say that I am a saint, but never use bad language in front of the boys… never.
I would love to say that this is isolated and I wish I had a solution. I do a lot of volunteer work at the High School as well as the Elementary School that my wife works at. I am shocked (not offended) when I hear how some of the kids talk. 3rd and 4th graders that swear like merchant marines. High School kids that can not get through a sentence without throwing a four letter word out there. And so it is no surprise that we are hearing this kind of language in Scouting.
The older Scouts are typically the worse and no matter how many talk withs we have they do not seem to care how we feel about the issue. It is comply till the Scoutmaster leaves then back at it.
I have a few Scouts that fall into this category, and you can always tell a difference when they are not around. But those are the guys that really need to be there and it would be great if they stepped up and led by example… well I suppose they are leading by example, its just not the example we want them to be teaching.
I am not naive’ enough to think that bad language is not just becoming a part of the world today, in fact it’s pretty much always been there. We try to teach good manners, values, and social norms to our Scouts. The rub comes from the social norms that they learn at School, Home, and with their peer groups outside of Scouting.
So how do we fix this? I am not sure, but what I do know is that we don’t condone it and we nip it when it happens. Is it going to stop. No. And truth be told I won’t fight it either. I will just ask that they not talk that way and oh by the way.. you don’t get to camp with us till you decide that you want to watch your mouth.
I had a long talk this last Saturday with the Troop about language. I was once told that the mark of ignorance is foul language. You will never be considered “Cool” because you can drop and “F” bomb and you will not be looked upon favorably by those that matter in life when you talk and act like an idiot. There is not excuse for it and we can’t have it in our program.
I suppose I am taking the easy way out by uninviting young men to camp with us because they fail to live up to a simple part of Scouting… but I am a Scoutmaster not a baby sitter. I am a parent to my kids and a role model to others and when it comes to the Troop… the many over rule the few.
If you have suggestions or thoughts… please share them. This issue seems to be getting worse and I know that me and other readers could use some additional knowledge in this area.
Thanks in advance for sharing…
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Well, Camporee is over once again for another year.
Here are some thoughts on the weekend…
First and foremost I need to tell you that pride is just one word that comes to mind when it comes to how I feel about the boys of my Troop. Now, you may be saying to yourself… yeah Jer.. You say that all the time.. and yes, yes I do, but this time it is a “Coming of age” kind of pride.
As you also know, our troop camps using a “Backpacking style” of camping. We don’t have patrol boxes, we pack it in and pack it out, and we insist on boy leadership. We teach our Scouts to be self-reliant and to think and do things for themselves. Above all we have fun.
Our senior Patrol runs the Troop and is trained and guided to make sound decisions. They are not always right and they certainly are not always popular, but in the end the Troop seems to meet its goals.
Maybe it’s me, but for more than a few years it seems that our Troop has been sort of black sheep within the district. Until recently the only Troop that camped strictly using Backpacking methods. This year we noticed that a few more Troops are adopting our style of camping.
There are certainly advantages and disadvantages of being a backpacking Troop in a car camping district.
Super fast set up and take down and smaller footprint. I think this one and cooking are the two things that other Troops can’t wrap their heads around. We got into camp at about 7:30 PM. Within an hour we were all set up and working on the gateway.. we will talk about the gateway later. The camp site gets up quickly and allows for the patrols to get to the business of having fun.
This morning, the Scouts hit their typical Sunday routine. They woke up and started packing. Once packed, they cooked breakfast and finished camp chores. The troop was pretty much ready to go, but given a set schedule for camporee made the choice to lolly gag around camp. This is both a disadvantage and advantage. Lots of time, and nowhere to go when it comes to waiting on the rest of the schedule.
Cooking and clean up is easy and not without a good meal plan. A big misconception is that backpackers only eat freeze-dried cardboard. Not so. If you can cook it on a green stove, you can cook it backpacking and this was demonstrated all weekend as the boys cooked great meals
Lighter loads made for easy load out and pack up. I figure this is where many Troops have a problem with the way we camp. Immediately after closing ceremonies we were loaded in the cars and on our way home. As we drove off we could see the “heavy Troops” still taking down camp and loading up the trailers.
Now, I don’t really have a problem with the car camping style.. it’s just not for me and certainly not for our Troop. It is nice to wake up cook, clean up, pack and hike out. Makes for happy Scouts that, at the end of a good weekend can look forward to easy tear down of camp. A couple of our Scouts were talking with one of the troops next to us. They reported that the Scouts were not happy that they had at least an hour of clean up, tear down, and then put away once they got home. It is so much easier to load a bunch of backpacks into the truck and drive away.
To be honest, I find no merit in making the Scouts unhappy.
Our Troop never scores well on the camp site inspection, largely in part to the fact that the folks doing the grading don’t know what to look for. They are looking for patrol boxes, watch stations, and tents that are all pitched in a row with even spacing and Canopies to cook under. We don’t get scored high because our cook kits are put away after each meal and our food is hung in bear bags. They don’t see the little bottle of camp suds that we use to clean our pots and mess kits and they are not used to seeing single person tents or tarp set ups. So we have grown accustomed to just camping and having a fun weekend at camp o ree. The Scouts don’t seem to mind that we don’t “win” each year, but it is clear that they have a great time. That is not say that the Patrols don’t come away empty-handed. Each year they show well in the events and always take home ribbons. But as a total score, I am afraid that we won’t get the grand prize until the committee decides to grade backpacking troops fairly. This is going to be an issue in the near future as more troops are adopting our style of camping.
We had a large group of Webelos camp with us this year. A Troop guide volunteered to be their guide all weekend and he did a spectacular job. I think of the 8 Webelos, we should get at least 6 of them to cross over into the Troop. They are motivated and liked the way we camped and had fun. The Dad’s that camped with us from the Webelos seemed to have a good time and were impressed with the way our boys ran the troop. It was a good opportunity for them to see the Troops of the District all at once. It was really good for us when they noticed a couple of troops that had the moms and dads doing all the cooking for the boys. ”That is not the way Scouting should be” said one of the Dad’s. I could not help be agree.
Where are the judges when the Scouts are not doing their own cooking.. but hey to each their own. That’s not how we do it. Green Bar Bill is flipping in his grave.
Our Scouts did a great job this weekend.. Perfect, No… but perfect in the way we do Scouting.
We had a real fun time this weekend and like I said at the beginning.. I am proud of the Scouts of my troop.
Our Assistant Senior Patrol Leader got an opportunity to lead the Troop this weekend and continued to develop into a good leader. He stepped up and did a nice job. It was nice to work with him and teach him some leadership techniques. Watching him apply them was rewarding for both him and I. Real proud of him… he will be a great Senior Patrol Leader.
Our Senior Patrol leader was torn this weekend between the Venturing Crew that he is a member of and the Troop. He did a fantastic job this weekend, but I could tell that he was torn when the Crew earned the Top spot for Crews this year.
Each Scout learned something this weekend and once again tested leadership and skills. It’s those things that make me a proud Scoutmaster.
Have a great Scouting Day!
Last night I had the pleasure of sitting down with a couple of Webleos Scouts that needed a Scoutmaster Conference to earn their Arrow of Light. I love the opportunity to sit with these young guys, they always have an interesting take on what they want out of Scouting and they are always enthusiastic about coming up to the Troop.
The two fellows last night were no exception. It was apparent that they had been studying for their arrow of light particularly the Oath and Law. In our talk I asked the Webelos if they knew what the elements of the Scout Badge meant. There is a pretty good explanation in the Webelos book and I could tell right away that they knew the parts. They had their own way of sharing it with me, but their collective answers assured me that they had been learning.
I asked them what the two stars represented on the Scout Badge. They struggled for a little as most Scouts do, but then one of the Scouts chimed in with “Heart and Mind”. I hesitated for a minute and then before I could correct the young Scout he continued by saying something that I thought was amazing.
He said, “Heart and Mind… The one star represents our Heart where we find Truth and the other star represents our Mind where we keep Knowledge. They work together to help us do the right thing.” I picked my jaw off the ground and asked him where he got that from. It makes total sense. He said that it was the only way he could remember it. Truth and Knowledge just did not stick in his mind, but heart and mind did. I asked if I could borrow it and he told me that it would be ok.
The other Webelos Scout that was with him said that he could remember that better than Truth and Knowledge also.. I said.. he whatever works guys. The point is that we use the images that help up remember those things that help us become better people.
After our little chat, the two Scouts went over and joined the rest of the troop working on lashing our Gateway for the upcoming camp o ree. After the meeting they came to me and thanked me for my time and asked if they could sign up for our troop now. I thanked them and told them that we would talk, but wanted them to focus on completing the Arrow of Light and we would see them at their cross over.
The more I thought about those two stars I could not help but think that it is more than the Scout Badge.. The two stars were those two young Webelos. They taught me something last night and on the heals of Wood Badge assured me that this Scouting thing is truly a fantastic organization and I thank God that we have little guys like that they keep wanting to be in it.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
I just walked in the door from another fantastic Wood badge course. W1-492-13 is now in its application phase and as the participants walked out of camp yesterday I could not help but think about the impact that was about to hit the Scouting world.
53 Scouters took labored steps toward their cars yesterday heading back out into the Scouting world with a new set of tools, a renewed spirit in Scouting and new friendships made.
As the staff gathered to have a final staff meeting the comment was made that like a pebble thrown into a pond causing ripples, we have cast our pebbles into the pond of Scouting and the impact will be endless. Those 53 Scouters will make such a difference within their units, districts, and even the Council. Touching the lives or more Scouts and other Scouters than any single leader can. When we talk about making a difference, I believe that Scouters that have the Wood Badge experience make a the biggest splash!
I love Wood Badge and each time I participate, I learn more. Wood Badge compels me to take seriously the concept of life long learning. This was my second time on staff, and I hope not the last. The first time I staffed Wood Badge, I learned more than I think I learned as a participant. In fact, diving into the syllabus I know that I learned the material which allowed me to make a difference as a Troop Guide. This time I served the Wood Badge course as the Assistant Scoutmaster for Support and Physical Arrangements. Part of the Administrative staff I got to see “the other side” of Wood Badge. I got to see the nuts and bolts that it takes to hold a Wood Badge course together. And I must say that while the troop guides make a hands on impact on the learner, the admin staff set the enviroment for good learning. They coordinate speakers, materials, and facilities and most of all are the guardians of maintaining the standards of the Wood Badge course. Ensuring that the syllabus is followed and the learners have the best opportunity to succeed.
Ok, that’s all logical and expected. It was a great experience to be on the staff in this position.
Here is what I saw that has made a lasting impact on me. Yeah.. on me.
Our Course Director/ Scoutmaster is John Caputo, he is a Scouters Scouter. He is humble and knowledgeable. He is compassionate and strict, he is a great teacher.
Spending the the last 6 months on his staff was special. John’s greatest lesson was passion. John is passionate about Scouting, but more specifically, his passion lies in training. He has been a Trainer in Scouting for “a few years”. His knowledge and commitment to dropping rocks in the pond is not just visible, it’s contagious. I left the Wood Badge staff in 2011 with a renewed committment to my Scouts and the Scouting world as well as being a better father, husband, and friend. I left this years staff with a renewed passion for training, for making my troops leaders better, and with the first draft of my next ticket. A ticket the will focus on my wife.
This is the impact of Wood Badge and I love it. It is such a special part of my life and I am happy.
Have you found passion in your Scouting world?
Have a Great Scouting Day!
<Insert tongue in cheek>
If you have 4:06 now is the time to sit and watch beautiful burn patterns on alcohol stoves. Yes, we are getting back into the swing of real pressing issues. Gear!
I picked up the Trangia stove recently and other than taking it out of the box have not really messed with it.
The Trangia stove looks, feels, and measures exactly like the Esbit stove that has become my favorite.
So I threw 1 fl. oz of denatured alcohol in each of them and sat and watched for 8 plus minutes as they burned. I wanted to see which would go out first. Maybe there is a jet pattern difference that would cause a difference in burn rate. Maybe there was a material design internally that would cause one to burn faster than the other. Really though… oh… no… you almost got me… you have to watch to see who wins.
Enjoy the video.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
And on the heals of this great debate, and to be honest… like a reader suggested… I’m ready to stop talking about this and get back to backpacking and other more meaningful subjects…
But on the heals of the debate, yesterday Jason Collins, a professional basketball player in the NBA “Came out” in an interview with Sports Illustrated. This morning on ESPN that is the head line news and Jason is being hailed as a hero. Now, I am not going to rehash my position on homosexuals.. well maybe I should just clarify my belief.
First. People are people and deserve respect no matter who they sleep with. Second. I am not homophobic and believe in live and let live… In short.. I don’t care. Third. I am not gay, it is not my thing, but the “Gay agenda” has little or no impact on me and my life, so… live and let live. And finally, I think when it comes to religion and religious institutions, they should practice what they preach. If it is a sin.. hate the sin.. not the sinner.
Ok.. having said all of that for the last time… I am going to move on. The BSA is going to make a change in the policy. I think they are to far into this to turn back and I think in light of Jason Collins interview, the public will not allow any other decision other than to change the policy to include openly gay Scouts.
So what do we do now? Well, let me tell you what this Scoutmaster is going to do. NOTHING. I will comply with the policy and treat every Scout just like I treat them today. I will keep teaching and coaching. I will train leaders and I will go camping each month with them. Nothing will change in Troop 664. Now, some families may leave due to the fundamental idea that the organization has let them down and changed a policy that they feel contradicts their values. I hear that, but at the end of the day… it is the collective values and training at the unit level that matter. The Oath and Law stand firm. I believe in the Oath and Law and know that they assist in making good citizens and men of character. Gay, Straight, or whatever would be in between.
How I deal with the conversations that happen with those families that will certainly be unhappy with the BSA’s decision is going to be critical in maintaining a positive Scouting experience.
I had a talk the other day with a parent. They shared with me that they did not want to see the policy change. I shared with her that really nothing will change locally and asked if she and her family had up to this point a positive Scouting experience. The answer was yes. so I had to ask if she thought any of that experience would change. She said not locally, but she was disappointed in how the Boy Scouts could let down the majority of its members. I agreed. Like it or not, the BSA is a pretty conservative organization that has took pride in staying the course.
Again, I don’t have a problem with opening up the doors, but that is where the change stops. When a boy joins our Troop we ask him to promise to live the Scout Oath and Law. We expect that they live a certain way in which the values found in the Oath and Law dictate their daily walk. We don’t allow abuse, hazing, or disrespect. And so when a gay boy comes in, he will be expected to do the same. I will not make concessions in the Law and Oath.
I really hope that no one leaves Scouting because of this. But I know it’s going to happen. For that I am sad. I am not leaving. At the core Scouting will still be the best program for our youth and the program will still be selling point that keeps Scouts looking for adventure and developing into great men.
This is the last word on this subject for me.
Now, I need to weigh some gear and get packed for Wood Badge.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
As I hit the publish button on the last post I realized that I never offered a solution. And I am still wondering what that is… but I can tell you that if I were King for the day… or at least the Chief Scout Executive here is what I would do tomorrow.
First I would call all of the major news networks and tell them that the Boy Scouts of America is going to have a press conference to talk about this issue.
Second. I would create a presentation that outlined what we as an organization stand for, provide, and believe. This presentation would highlight all of the great things that young men and women get out of Scouting. It would highlight our values and those promises that we make individually in the Scout Oath.
I would tell the world that we are the best organization in world that centers it’s mission on creating good people. I would remind the world that we are an organization designed for peace and service.
Then I would talk about the issue of inclusive membership and state the following: We are the Boy Scouts of America. You have seen all that we have to offer and I think you would agree that this program is for everyone. I would assure America that no matter what happens in this upcoming vote to change the membership policy that nothing will ever change in our program. The Boy Scouts provide a safe environment for all Scouts no matter who they are, where they come from, and whatever their family religious and cultural background may be. The Boy Scouts of America stand committed to provided that safe program free of abuse, hazing, and discrimination.
Then I would suggest that we as an organization have gone through many changes in our 100 plus years and have stood the test of time because of our values and our program.
I think that the Boy Scouts of America have not done a great job in telling our side of the story. The media have been given blank check with which they write and talk about our program given their limited point of view. The Boy Scouts of America need to get in front of this and do a better job in talking to America.
The organization is doing a nice job in communicating to its membership.. but we are already on board. They need to get on the 6 o’clock news and sell our story to America.
Wayne.. if you need help with this… let’s talk.
Have a Great Scouting Day!